Two new home improvement fraud cases in court; Elderly victims lived in Pownal and Bennington | Local News

BENNINGTON — Two different individuals were arraigned in Bennington on Monday on separate felony cases of home improvement fraud against elderly victims in Pownal and Bennington, including a 101-year-old widower.

Both victims reported thousands of dollars in cash deposits for projects that were either never started, not done correctly, or never completed. None of the funds were returned.

Mitchell R. Harris, 48, is charged with one count of home improvement fraud – a felony – for allegedly taking $15,000 from an elderly widower to replace two screen doors and remodel a back porch. Both projects were never completed.

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According to a police affidavit, Harris, who owns the Mitch and Sons Painting Company out of Pownal, was hired by the 101-year-old homeowner in July 2022 with the promise of completing the needed repairs after receiving deposits totaling $15,000. Some of the work was started but unfinished. Some of the materials were wood instead of the agreed-upon TREX decking. Most of the work was never finished, with Harris allegedly telling the homeowner on multiple occasions over 14 months about health issues and other excuses like broken-down vehicles and court dates for not completing the promised work.

Harris allegedly told the police after they contacted him as part of the investigation that he had completed $10,000 to $12,000 worth of the work. When pressed for proof or documentation, Harris allegedly never produced any.

Harris has a criminal history in Vermont and Massachusetts. A preliminary check on Angie’s List, a website devoted to home repair reviews, showed Mitch and Sons has a 2.2 out of 5 rating. Several verified reviews had negative ratings, with one telling potential clients, “BEWARE!!! DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID!!!” Another review said, “Run the other way.”

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Harris faces a possible 3-year jail sentence if convicted. He was released without bail on several conditions, including not contacting or harassing the homeowner. There are no further court dates in the case.

Stephen M. Woodie, 63, of Pownal, is also charged with felony home improvement fraud. In Woodie’s case, an 80-year-old victim reported he hired Woodie to replace the siding on his Bennington home in March 2021. The victim allegedly gave Woodie $9,000 to purchase siding for his house and install it. Woodie allegedly bought the siding, put one wall up, and never returned to complete the job. According to a police affidavit, Woodie told the homeowner that he had COVID-19 and could not return. After that, according to the homeowner, Woodie never returned any of the victim’s phone calls.

After police contacted Woodie, he told them that he had written the homeowner, stating that he would pay him back $200 a month beginning November 2021, which equaled $3,600, the money left after the siding was purchased. The victim balked at waiting 18 months for his money after Woodie had already spent it, and none of the money was ever returned.

Woodie has a criminal history in Vermont. He also faces a possible 3-year sentence if convicted of the felony count of home improvement fraud. Woodie was released without bail on the condition he not contact or harass the homeowner. No further court dates have been set.

Home improvement fraud is a criminal offense in Vermont. If you believe you have been subjected to home improvement fraud, you should promptly report the matter to your local law enforcement or report the incident at the Vermont Home Improvement Fraud Registry at

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